Helly Hansen Trail Wizard Running Shoes | Perfect for beginners

Our gear expert Holly Giles puts the Trail Wizard running shoes from Helly Hansen to the ultimate test.

from Helly Hansen
RRP  £110.00
4 stars Helly Hansen Trail Wizard running shoe on the beach

by Holly Giles |
Published on

New players to the trail running scene, Helly Hansen (HH) have released the women’s Trail Wizard running shoe as a light, flexible counterpart to their hiking trainers. It’s a nimble trail running shoe with good levels of support and maximal breathability.

All those air holes are perfect for cooling down over longer runs but leave you exposed to the elements and muddy puddles. It lacks the waterproofing offered by most major brands in this field, but is a good starting shoe for HH and new trail runners alike.

LFTO tester and marathon smasher Holly Giles got her hands on a pair of Trail Wizards earlier this year. She immediately put them to the test on the rocky beaches and coastal paths of Aberystwyth, Wales, as the weather transitioned from treacherous winter winds and rains into a more forgiving and sunny spring. Here's her full review...

Best for beginners


  • No signs of wear
  • Sustainable materials
  • Very high breathability
  • Lots of cushioning


  • Not waterproof
  • Air holes let a lot of water in during running


I don't know why HH went ahead and called this shoe a wizard, but I'm guessing it’s the magic breathability of these shoes. The upper is made from two layers of recycled polyester and a third layer of thermoplastic polyurethane: this combination gives the shoe its trademark Quick Dry and Max-Vent technology for maximum breathability. When running in these my feet can breathe and never seem to get too hot. However, it’s worth noting that these air holes can quickly become puddle holes when running in the UK countryside. Your feet do seem to dry out quickly but there is a fair amount of squelching in the trade-off for breathability.

Helly Hansen Trail Wizard running shoe upper and laces

The breathability is also high on the toe box section, giving you room to wriggle your toes. This stopped my feet feeling too crammed in, especially on longer runs. There is no need to size up with these shoes as they have a good amount of height, and seem true to size.

The shoe has a simple lace system with carabiner-styled loops for the laces either side. The tongue is padded so gives a comfortable wear even if you need to tighten the laces more. However, the tongue is not integrated into the main shoe so there is another gap for water to enter if you haven’t lined them up correctly – lesson learned on first wear!


Here's where the Trail Wizard really shines. I found them exceptionally comfortable over longer runs thanks to the HH Max-Comfort Insole. Wading through trademark jargon, the HH Max-Comfort Insole is “a molded removable footbed with a premium eva compound for great comfort and a prolonged lifespan”. This is reinforced by the HH Power-Stride: “a lightweight foam technology [that] delivers the optimal balance of cushioning, comfort and rebound, whilst ensuring a prolonged midsole lifespan”. I have quite narrow feet but the insole is slightly raise on the outer edge, keeping your feet secure and stable over rougher terrain. The insole can also be easily removed before washing, to get the bright colours back after a muddy run.

Helly Hansen Trail Wizard running shoe on the beach

The Trail Wizard's comfort is also increased by it's overall lightness, weighing 260g (UK size 6) with a HH Lite-Frame. It feels like Helly Hansen have covered all their bases here; the shoes are even treated with an antimicrobial treatment to prevent odour. Whilst I don’t want to write about my smelly feet online, so far this has proved very effective. Enough said.


For me, the fate of a trail shoe lives and dies by its grip. The HH Max-Grip outsole is designed to work across a range of surfaces and “provides great traction in wet and cold conditions”. This is combined with the HH Surround-Grip with “carefully engineered lugs [to] deliver 360-degree traction on all surfaces”. Whilst this reads well on paper, my experience has been mixed. They have good grip on muddy paths, trail routes and river paths, but struggle in full off-road conditions, especially muddy grass when they start to slip.

Helly Hansen Trail Wizard running shoes lugs

After three months of testing, these shoes are currently showing no signs of wear. This is partly thanks to the HH Pro Guard technology where “exposed areas such as the toe-cap and heel-cap are layered with a hard-wearing material to keep you protected”.


Sustainability is where the HH brand really comes into its own with company values focusing on the whole life cycle of the shoe. More than 70% of the upper part is made from recycled materials, including 100% recycled lace, polyester webbing, toe box, heel reinforcement, polyester woven brand label and lining. HH have also selected materials that are long-lasting: I have worn these trainers for a whole season of running and can see no signs of wear, which considering the brutal trail routes I’ve done, is saying something!

Helly Hansen Trail Wizard running shoes heels

This reflects HH’s pledge to sustainable materials: “Our aspiration is to make products that can live through generations. Long-lasting products require durable materials, which is a priority for us and an advantage for the environment. Therefore, we constantly work to develop and choose materials with the lowest environmental impact”. A big plus of these shoes is that you can run with a clean environmental conscience.

Price and competition

With a RRP of £115, these are a good entry shoe into the world of trail running with the right balance of versatility for hybrid routes. Whilst they won’t put you back as much as other brands, their lack of waterproofing is what you are missing with this price window.

As far as feel goes, the Trail Wizard are comparable to shoes like the Salomon Sense Ride 5 or the Hoka Zinal 2, sporting a solid level of cushioning and a lug pattern that isn't as aggressive as other picks.


lugs and upper of Helly Hansen Trail Wizard running shoes on the beach

Overall the Helly Hansen’s trail wizards are a great starting shoe for the new trail runner, with good grip, ankle support and breathability. However, HH have prioritised air flow over waterproofing so fall down in the English puddles. An ideal road to trail running shoe, but won’t be coming out of my cupboard until the clocks change.

How we tested

Holly Giles expert trail runner and shoe tester

These shoes were tested and reviewed by Holly Giles. Holly is a scientific researcher and is always running as a way to escape the lab. She is a freelance gear tester, parkrun tourist and half-marathon runner. Holly has put these shoes to the test for the last month with muddy parkruns and runs through her local woods in Surrey. This is her first time reviewing for Live for the Outdoors.

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